My parents’ visit this time around presented a new challenge to test my problem-solving skills: they were bringing my bicycle over from Holland, but we were concerned that the box wouldn’t be able to fit into a regular taxi. Thankfully a good friend suggested I download the ’58 Daojia Suyun’ app, pictured below, which would hopefully solve all the logistical nightmares that apparently transpire when taking on a task past getting dressed in China.
The app allows you to book a van of any choice (choices listed below). Doing this definitely requires knowledge of Chinese characters, so make sure you’ve got someone around who can help you if you’re not sure what you’re doing.
After choosing the type of van (I went with the 小型平板 xiaoxing pingban option at RMB 43) you have to enter the set-off point and the destination, along with your name and phone number (if you’re going to drive with your freight) or the receiver’s name and phone number. Don’t forget to edit the time on the top (circled) as you can book for now, or up to five days in advance.
After going through the steps, and selecting whether to pay the driver in cash at the beginning of the trip or the end, you will receive a confirmation over text when you do have a confirmed booking.
The day before my parents were set to arrive, I called to confirm with the driver. To my surprise he kept saying that the booking had been cancelled (which I certainly hadn’t done, and he hadn’t either), and I had to get a friend to help convey to him that we wanted to uncancel the booking and have him pick us up at the airport with the bicycle-in-a-box anyway.
Many confirmations later, he said he would come and get us but was very confused about where to wait. Approximately four phone calls later we found him in the basement of the parking lot, sporting what definitely was not the type of van we booked. Thankfully the box fit regardless.
As we did not have a booking through the app anymore, we had to haggle a little bit (the driver conveniently waited until we had loaded up the van to express his unwillingness to actually take us anywhere) and ended up paying RMB 200 for him to take us and the box to Yonghegong area instead of the RMB 142 estimated by the app. Not bad. Next time we will have to work within the app, and see how that goes.
Basically, to round up my experience, don’t use this app if:
- Your meeting point might not be clear. Airports specifically come to mind.
- You don’t speak Chinese.
- You have huge things to move during the day but live within the Second Ring Road (due to traffic restrictions).
If you do speak Chinese, and are moving house, 58 Daojia Suyun is a great option as the vans are pretty cheap and you can haggle with the driver to have him help you move things too.
This post first appeared on thebeijinger.com on October 20, 2015.
Photos: Margaux Shreurs